It is always shoved into last place in the queue?
If you frequently delay your writing because you’re bouncing from one urgency to another, your writing is the victim of the Urgency Bully.
You can fight back! You can give your writing the time and focus it deserves.
The Attractive Tyrant
So many of us rely on deadlines and other urgencies because they give us a shot of adrenaline. Adrenaline gives us the energy to do what needs to be done.
Adrenaline focuses our attention on the immediate task or situation, which relieves us of having to make the difficult decision about what really is important and what long-range vision we should be following.
And frankly, adrenaline feels good; so good that some people get addicted to it. Don’t let an adrenaline high replace writing!
Adrenaline and its constant companion, cortisol, occur naturally in our bloodstream and serve valuable functions.
But when stress becomes our default state, these stress hormones causes a whole host of problems including, as I note in Around the Writer’s Block, “…significantly reducing fluid intelligence (a.k.a creative thinking) and impairing nearly every other cognitive function: mood, memory, learning, planning, self-control and motivation.” (more about cortisol)
Urgency triggers limbic system takeovers. The limbic system is fast and effective in true emergencies, but when your limbic system is driving the bus, your creative cortex is not online. You simply can’t make innovative decisions or do your most creative work.
Stop the Bullying
Instead, step back and listen to what is truly important to you.
If writing is important to you, reserve time for it. Make an appointment on your calendar and don’t give that time away to anything short of a true emergency. (Not sure if something is an emergency? Here’s a hint: if there isn’t a fire truck, ambulance, police car, Coast Guard cruiser, or other big emergency vehicle involved, chances are it’s not a true emergency.)
Refuse to listen to other people’s agendas until you have taken the uninterrupted time you need to identify your own.
First thing in the morning, resist the temptation to attend to texts, social media, email and other electronic input. Don’t read, don’t watch or listen to the news, don’t get caught up in the outrage du jour.
- What long-range vision am I following as a writer, family member, professional and in other significant roles?
- What medium-range goals do I need to achieve to reach that vision?
- What short-term tasks do I need to do to achieve those goals?
- What is truly important today?
When you can answer these questions, you’re ready to invite the world in and consider how you can collaborate and negotiate with others. I’m sure you don’t want to be an Urgency Bully in someone else’s life and dreams.